Tales from the Trail

Obama’s oil oratory — Katrina, drill baby drill, boom and shave

President Barack Obama, in his first formal press conference  in almost a year (since July), answered questions about his handling of the oil spill.

There was the one about Katrina comparisons. (Slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina turned into an albatross for former President George W. Bush). OIL-LEAK/OBAMA

“I’ll leave it to you guys to make those comparisons … and make judgments on it, because what I’m spending my time thinking about is how do we solve the problem?” Obama said.

But it turns out he did have an opinion about future judgment about past actions. “I’m confident that people are going to look back and say that this administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis.”

Did he regret calling for expanded offshore drilling before the spill? Obama said he continues to believe that “domestic oil production is an important part of our overall energy mix,” but is insufficient to meet future needs, which is why investment in clean energy is needed.

from Environment Forum:

Oil-soaked sand along Gulf Coast raises memories of Exxon Valdez

Oil on BeachA handful of oily sand grabbed from a Louisiana wetland brought back some strong memories for Earl Kingik. As a traditional hunter and whaler in Alaska's Arctic, it reminded him of the Exxon Valdez spill. As he and other tribal leaders toured the U.S. Gulf Coast for signs of the BP oil spill, they worried that what's happening now in Louisiana could happen if offshore drilling proceeds off the Alaskan coast.

"There's no way to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic," said Kingik, an Inupiat tribal member from Point Hope, Alaska. Compared to Louisiana, where the waters are relatively calm and cleanup equipment and experts are nearby, the Arctic Ocean is a hostile place for oil and gas exploration. The Arctic leaders made their pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast as part of a campaign to block planned exploratory drilling by Shell Oil  in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

4 looking out windows"What I saw was devastating out there," Martha Falk, the tribal council treasurer of the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope in Alaska, said after the Gulf Coast tour by seaplane, boat and on foot. If the same thing occurred off Alaska, she said, "We would have to wait days and days and days for (cleanup) equipment to reach our area."

No magic solution for oil spill, elbowing BP won’t do any good

The message from the White House podium today was loud and clear – there is no magic fix for the oil spill that looks like curdled chocolate milk flowing on top of the Gulf of Mexico. And there isn’t much that anyone can do that BP isn’t doing.

OIL-RIG/LEAKCan government push BP out of the way if it believes the company is not doing the job?

“Well, to push BP out of the way would raise a question — to replace them with what?” Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, the administration’s response chief for the disaster, asked back.

from Environment Forum:

Gulf of Mexico oil spill prompts worries about Arctic drilling

RUSSIAWith the spotlight shining on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the executives sizzling in the hot seat on Capitol Hill, environmental advocates are looking north.

They're worried that Shell Oil will start drilling in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska before the U.S. government reports on BP's Deepwater Horizon drill rig disaster. And the environmental groups are not comforted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's reassurances that no new drilling will take place until the government report is completed by May 28.

"The May 28 report deadline still leaves ample time should the Department of the Interior choose to allow this ill-advised drilling to move forward in extreme Arctic conditions, where spill response faces additional challenges of sea ice, seas of up to 20 feet, darkness and a virtual lack of infrastructure from which to stage a response," the environmental groups -- Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society -- said in a statement.

from Environment Forum:

Washington math: oil spill + climate bill = new environmental polls

OIL-RIG/LEAKWith BP's spilled oil shimmering off the U.S. Gulf Coast, and a re-tooled bill to curb climate change expected to be unveiled this week in the U.S. Senate, what could be more appropriate than a bouquet of new environmental polls? Conducted on behalf of groups that want less fossil fuel use, the polls show hefty majorities favoring legislation to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide.

In the kind of harmonic convergence that sometimes happens inside the Capital Beltway, a new poll released on Monday by the Clean Energy Works campaign showed "overwhelming public support for comprehensive clean energy legislation," with 61 percent of 2010 voters saying they want to limit pollution, invest in clean energy and make energy companies pay for emitting the carbon that contributes to climate change. A healthy majority -- 54 percent -- of respondents said they'd be more likely to re-elect a senator who votes for the bill.

Last Friday, the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has been pushing for climate change legislation for years, released its own poll numbers. NRDC's pollsters found seven in 10 Americans want to see fast-tracked clean energy legislation in the wake of the BP oil spill, and two-thirds say they want to postpone new offshore drilling until the Gulf oil spill is investigated and new safeguards are put in place.

Obama promises to work overtime to ease economic impact of oil spill

There’s not much to offer by way of comfort to coastal states threatened by the oil spill that’s spreading over the Gulf of Mexico like The Blob from horror movies past.

OIL-RIG/LEAK-BPAnd then there’s also the threat from the “Loop Current” that could carry the oil around Florida’s peninsula and north…

So there’s not much by way of  lemonade likely to come out of the lemons of this disaster, but President Barack Obama promised to work overtime to limit the economic damage to affected communities and to try and make sure that  jobs created to clean up the mess would go to local residents.